Last week was Lady Gaga’s birthday and it got me feeling some kind of way.


I reposted a sweet little quote for her on my Insta and it got me thinking: why is it, at 26 years of age, do I even still doubt myself or hate certain parts of me, or why I can’t take a compliment to save my life and etc., etc., etc..


I guess it stems back to when I was younger.

I never was the prettiest or the funniest or the smartest girl, but I hustled and I tried really hard to consistently prove not only my peers wrong, but myself and my family, also. I knew they loved me for me and all of that fluffy stuff, but even then, I barely believed them when I would do something good.

Bad teeth? I got them fixed with braces. Bad hair day? I hairspray-ed the hell outta it and strategically placed some butterfly clips in the disarray, hoping to fool people that I had nice, pretty, straight hair like the others girls did. Wanting a boy to like me? I did what all the other girls did: played dumb. I would trip. I would be labeled a “klutz”–a “ditz”. Hell, I even remembered one of my first AOL chat names was ditzylo91. And the other was iloveducks42, which is a certified classic now. Wanted to fit in with the cool girls? I pretended to enjoy their talk of Britney Spears’ belly-button piercing and how making out with tongue could possibly get you pregnant, and worst of all, I would hang in the back while they made fun of others girls. Little did I know, if they could make fun of them in front of me, they could easily make fun of me when I wasn’t around them, too.

Middle school wasn’t easy. High school, however, was harder.

The death of my grandfather, my best friend and ice-cream lover, plummeted me into high school with unresolved grief and misplaced angst. I never felt like I fit in with my fellow classmates. I gravitated towards my volleyball teammates, the older girls who enjoyed Harry Potter and Twilight as much as I did, or skinny dipping under a full moon and passing notes in each others’ lockers and having a designated table at lunch, the seniors allowing me to sit with them and making me feel like I finally belonged. I felt like I had finally found my niché. They even helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life. Those memories could never be replaced.


Via Pinterest, because Pinterest is LIFE AF.

And then they all graduated. I was left to assimilate myself back into my class. I felt a step ahead of everyone because I had gone through it all with my friends the year before. It felt like I was a shadow most of the time. I smiled. I laughed. I went to parties. I hated myself and my body because of being made fun of for years. My self-esteem plummeted. I dated guys my parents didn’t like. I was caught drinking on my Catholic senior retreat. I made it into a kick-ass school, California State University of Long Beach, only to be ridiculed by some of my closest cousins. I joined a sorority that ended up being detrimental to my body-image and esteem, yet again. I dated more guys who hurt me. I lost some friends and gained some new ones. It was a wild rollercoaster that I never intend on re-living again.

Yet, as I sit here and bitch share with you about my past, I can’t help but think that in retrospect, those experiences shaped who I am today; hence, that sweet little Pinterest quote I shared with y’all above.

I truly think I’ve been through it all–well, as much as I could handle. Of course, my experiences will never be yours and yours will never be mine, yet, if we can bond through the hurt and the sadness and the loneliness and the bliss and the peace and the redemption, well, y’all, that’s what makes us human.

Those moments that I felt like I was at my lowest, or as I people-watched on campus, the characters that I encountered almost every day, those beautiful and sad moments only fueled my writing and helped shape the noir-style that I hope to achieve with every book I write: it’s gritty and it’s real and it’s life.

I was recently asked if Mads, the protagonist of XXII, was based on anyone that I knew personally–even if she was based on me–and I drew a blank. I couldn’t place one singular person to Mads. I feel like she and her story are a kaleidoscope–a myriad–of people and situations I have known and still know. Those experiences helped create Madison, and for that, I will forever be grateful for what I’ve gone through and what I’ve survived and what I’ve seen.

It has only impassioned me to continue to write and to write as colorfully as possible, to dream up characters that seem so real that you may think to yourself, “Shit, I think I know a guy/girl/town/thing like that…I’ve felt that way before…I can relate…wow…”.

That’s my dream for ya’ll, my loves. To live and to feel so fully that when you think you might burst from it all, you decide to grab a pen and scribble it down. Paint a picture with your words. Tell me a story. Describe a person in such a dramatic realism that I can look directly into your character and relate on a human level to a person you dreamed up in your head. It’s okay to be weird. It’s okay to survive these things. It’s okay to be broken-up with on a cliffside at sunset. It’s okay to know that certain family members are still talking shit about you and your family. It’s okay to let go of toxic humans in your life whose vibrations just aren’t matching yours any anymore.

It’s okay. It’s human.

So be your mother-effin’ self. Do it. Do it well and do it so fully that every night you have something to write about. Share it with me.

I’ll read yours if you read mine.


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XOXO, lo♥

6 thoughts on “BE YOUR EFFIN’ SELF

  1. Paula Antolos

    I just finished reading your book and I loved it. I can’t wait to read the next one. I would love to see a part two as to what happens to Madison and Hunter. Keep writing you are wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Savanah | Off-Color Literature

    Girl, I love this. I love it so much. And not just because I, too, was big on strategically places butterfly clips in my elegantly disheveled hair.

    Thank you for being willing to share your personal experiences, and I can’t wait to read your book! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • laurenoliviavalenza

      Wow!!! 🙌🏼 thank you so much!!! I hope you love it!! Whether it’s the blog or the book, this is exactly what I’ve always wanted to do–connect with someone who has been through similar situations in order to let them–and myself–know that they’re not alone. Thank you for reaching out! When you’re done with XXII, I would love to hear your thoughts!! Enjoy!!! 👏🏼📚


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